For Immediate Release
Member of Albuquerque-Based Armed Robbery Crew Sentenced to Seven Years for Conviction on Federal Firearms Charge
ALBUQUERQUE – Gabriel Sanchez, 29, of Albuquerque, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court to 84 months in prison for his conviction for using and brandishing a firearm during the robbery of a commercial business engaged in interstate commerce. Sanchez will be on supervised release for three years after completing his prison sentence.
Co-defendant Virgal Malott, 23, also of Albuquerque, was charged by criminal complaint on Feb. 18, 2015. According to the complaint, officers of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) arrested Malott on outstanding state felony warrants on Feb. 14, 2015. Thereafter, APD executed a state search warrant at his residence as part of an investigation into a series of armed robberies of Albuquerque-area businesses. During the search, APD found a loaded firearm, which provided the basis for a federal criminal complaint charging Malott with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition that was filed on Feb. 18, 2015, by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In June 2015, Malott was charged in an 11-count indictment with violating the Hobbs Act by robbing seven businesses engaged in interstate commerce, carjacking, using and brandishing a firearm during crimes of violence, and with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The indictment alleged that Malott committed the crimes in Bernalillo County, N.M., between Dec. 2014 and Jan. 2015.
The indictment was superseded in Aug. 2015, to add two defendants, Sanchez and Paul Lujan, 22, also of Albuquerque, and two more charges. The superseding indictment charged the three men with conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act by robbing businesses engaged in interstate commerce in Jan. 2015, the armed robbery of five Albuquerque-area businesses, and using and brandishing firearms during crimes of violence. It also charged Malott alone with the armed robbery of two additional Albuquerque-area businesses, carjacking, and with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The superseding indictment alleged that the three men committed the crimes in Bernalillo County between Dec. 2014 and Jan. 2015.
On Aug. 2, 2018, Sanchez entered a guilty plea to a felony information charging him with using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. In entering the guilty plea, Sanchez admitted that on Jan. 30, 2015, he brandished a firearm and pointed the firearm at two store clerks during the armed robbery of Loan Max located at 6108 Lomas Blvd., NE in Albuquerque.
On Aug. 17, 2017, Malott entered a guilty plea to three counts of the superseding indictment charging him with the armed robbery of a business engaged in interstate commerce, carjacking, and using and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. In entering the guilty plea, Malott admitted robbing a title loan business located in Albuquerque on Dec. 22, 2014. Malott acknowledged that he was armed when he committed the robbery. He also admitted pointing the firearm at the business’s three employees and that he threatened to kill the employees. Malott admitted committing a carjacking on Jan. 19, 2015, by pointing a firearm at an individual who was at an Albuquerque convenience store and demanding the individual’s wallet and keys. Malott fled from the scene in the individual’s vehicle. Malott was sentenced on Feb. 15, 2018, to 200 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
Lujan was arrested on Dec. 3, 2015, after he was transferred from state custody into federal custody. On Aug. 15, 2017, Lujan pled guilty to a felony information charging him with using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence. In entering the guilty plea, Lujan admitted that on June 30, 2015, he acted as the getaway driver during the armed robbery of the Loan Max Title Loan in Albuquerque. Lujan further admitted that he discarded a firearm while running from the police following the armed robbery. Lujan was sentenced on April 11, 2018, to 60 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF and by APD, with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rumaldo A. Armijo and David M. Walsh prosecuted the case.
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